IT WAS COMMON for Jayanta Kumar Das to find bundles of documents on his doorstep in Puri, Odisha. Having spent two decades in the Indian Air Force, Das retired as a sergeant, in 2001, aged 39. He started brokering land deals, which exposed him to a lot of corruption. When the Right to Information Act was passed, in 2005, Das felt enabled. At the turn of the decade he was scratching away at what came to be called the Odisha chit-fund scam. His name began appearing in the press as the scandal surfaced. “So people know me,” Das told me recently. “And because they know that I work honestly, they send me information.” Sometimes his dog chewed documents up before he could open the door to find them.
One bulk of papers arrived by post on 11 August 2016, from the city of Cuttack. These contained the interim report in an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation, carried out on orders of the Orissa High Court, which named public servants who had been indicted for acquiring government land by fraudulent means.